Explain the biblical principles of "hope"

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The biblical principles of "hope" are divided into two categories: hope on earth and hope for eternity. In the biblical sense, hope is not just wanting something to be true or to happen. Instead hope is generally used as a noun which reflects the many promises of God, the "confident expectation" that these promises will be fulfilled as well as the promises themselves. This hope in God's earthly provision and heavenly reward is for those who believe in Him.

Many references in the Bible refer to hope in God to meet earthly needs. Psalm 146:5 says, "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God." The Psalmist David says that hope in God brings happiness. Proverbs 10:28 (written by Solomon, David's son) says hope brings gladness: "The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish."

God is also the hope for believers in times of trouble, as in Jeremiah 14:18:

O the hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night?
Psalm 46:1 makes this hope even more clear: 
    God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Those who believe in God are able to put their hope in Him to meet their earthly needs as well as to give them strength during the trying, difficult times. 
Eternal hope, of course, refers to the promise God has made to Christians that Jesus will come again, fulfilling the promises God made in both the Old and the New Testaments which provide a way for man to reside in heaven for eternity. Colossians 1:5-6 refers to it as 
the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.

Titus 1:2 also speaks about this hope as the "hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." This idea continues in chapter 2, verse 13: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." This hope for heaven is not just wishful thinking for Christians but a promise God has made them to share eternity with Him. 

I Corinthians 15:9 suggests that if a person's only hope is in what happens here on earth, "we are of all men most miserable." Verse twenty suggests where the real hope lies: "But the truth is that Christ has been raised from death, as the guarantee that those who sleep in death will also be raised."

The Bible is not silent on how one achieves this kind of hope. Romans 5:3-5 says it comes, ultimately, from the trials and tribulations (hardships) in our lives.

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

The biblical principles of hope are, for the believer, both for here on earth and for eternity in heaven. Hope is the promise that God will provide help and succor for His children and one day greet them in heaven. This eternal hope is also applicable on earth, as it allows believers to rejoice in whatever circumstances they find themselves in, knowing that there is a much greater future hope and promise.


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